This township was erected by a decree of the court of quarter sessions of Clearfield county dated February 3,
1846, and was named in honor of the late Judge Woodward.
The township is bounded on the north by Boggs and Decatur townships, on the east by Decatur township, on the south
by Bigler and Gulich townships and on the west by Bigler and Knox townships.
This township has some of the finest coal deposits in the county, and these have been operated on a large scale
for many years.
The population, according to the census of 1910, was 2,535.
The major portion of the lands in this township were owned by Hardman Philips, and were settled upon by the same
class of people who settled Decatur township, and who bought their lands from Mr. Philips.
This gentleman sold his lands to these pioneers on credit, and as they were very poor he never expected to get
very much out of them in payment, but would take a sack of meal, a bushel of potatoes, or oats, or wheat, or anything
they could spare in settlement of what they owed him. Or, if they could not pay anything, it was all the same.
On his return to England he placed his accounts in the hands of Josiah W. Smith, Esq., of Clearfield, who was as
lenient as the owner.
One of the oldest settlers in this township was Henry Cross, an Irishman, who settled on a farm now in sight of
Beulah Church, in 1818.
Another old settler was the father of Mat.hew McCully, who settled near Mr. Cross, in 1827, on a piece of land
now immediately in front of Beulab church, and later owned by T. C. Heims. Mr. McCully was but two years old when
his father carried him to that farm, or rather that spot in the forest, and he spent a long and happy life in the
wilds of Clearfield county.
Robert Stewart moved into the Wheatland Settlement in 1829, having come from Chester county. He died during the
year 1886, aged nearly one hundred and five years.
In 1837 Hugh Henderson moved from Philipsburg to a piece of land he had purchased from James Allport, one hundred
and fortyseven acres, near what is now called the Sanborn Settlement. Mr. Henderson had emigrated ten years before
from the parish of Donahachie, County Tyrone, Ireland. He was the father of six children-Thomas, Robert, William,
Samuel, James and Margaret. The boys of this family, being hard workers, soon acquired sufficient means to purchase
additional lands, and marrying, they branched out for themselves, buying lands near the parent farm, and thus helping
to clear this township. As proved afterwards, all the lands in this and Decatur township were underlaid with coal,
though these old settlers never dreamt of such a thing, or at least if they knew it, did not suppose it would be
of any value to them. Coal was opened and worked for smithing, and local consumption as early as 1804, on the Hawkins
place, near Philipsburg, but was not accovnted of much value to its owner.
The farm bought by Samuel Henderson at the head of Goss Run, was sold in 1873 to John Whitehead, and the celebrated
Ocean colliery was opened upon it.
James Hegarty was another pioneer of this township, emigrating with his father from Ireland when eleven years old,
in 1808, and settling on lands later known as the "X Roads" farm, in 1820. He afterwards purchased three
hundred acres in what is now known as Geulich township. Mr. Hegarty died on the 31st of May, 1846, leaving a family
of four children.
Rev. John M. Chase is another old settler, having early cleared a farm on Clearfield Creek, in Happy Valley. Mr.
Chase was a minister of the Baptist Church, having been ordained a pastor of the church near his place in 1871.
Christian Shoff, of Osceola Mills, was another old settler of this township. Mr. Shoff's grandfather settled near
the village of Puseyville, at the lower ford. That his father, Samuel Shoff, settled near Glen Hope in 1811, is
known, and Christian was born there in 1830. When five years old his father moved to Wheatland, now called Amesville.
This, then, may be called the first settlement of the hamlet of Amesville. Shoff, the father, moved in company
with Benjamin Wiiight, Billy Myrtle, Abraham Kady, Robert Haggerty, and John Whiteside, the descendants of whom
still inhabit the farms in and around this place. The Alexander family are later additions to the township, but
still can be styled old settlers.
Lumbering occupied the time of these old pioneers as much as farming. The township being covered with a most magnificent
pine and hemlock forest, they, in winter, felled the pine trees, squared them, rafted the timber, and ran it to
market by way of Clearfield Creek and the Susquehanna River. Wages for hewers in those days was sixty-two and one-half
cents per day of twelve hours.
Logging, or cutting the trees into logs different lengths, was not commenced for some time after the lumbering,
or the making of square timber, and when the first logs were placed in the creek to be run out on the first flood,
the anger of the lumbermen was so raised against the loggers that a number of them proceeded to chop the logs to
pieces, while others drove nails and spikes into the logs so that they could not be sawed. A lawsuit was the result,
which was gained by the loggers. and thereafter logs and rafts had equal rights to the water. William R. Dickinson
was the first man to run logs, and his logs were the ones destroyed.
In 1847 a very heavy flood occurred in the waters leading from the county, the river being ten feet higher than
has been known since. In 1865 another flood occurred, but not so disastrous as the preceding one.
Mills for the manufacturing of lumber were built as early as the forties, but it was not until 1854 that the first
mill was built in the township. This was Houtz, Reed & Co.'s mill at Houtzville (now Brisbin). Another mill
was built above Houtzdale, about a mile, by Dull & Kessler, in 1867. The lumber from these two mills was hauled
by tram-road to Moshannon mines in i868. and shipped by rail.
The Reeds built another mill in what is now Houtzdale, in 1869, and from that date on numerous mills were built,
notably Heim's mill, in 1871, situated two miles west of Osceola Mills; Kephart & Bailey's "bill mill,"
in 1873, one mile west of the same place. Isaac Taylor also built a mill on Coal Run in 1869, and S. S. Kephart
has a mill there yet. Jesse Diggins built a mill on Goss Run, a little below Houtz, Reed & Co's mill, in 1873,
and a man named McOmber had a portable mill at the head of Goss Run as early as 1868, while J. A. G. White built
the first shingle mill near Osceola Mills in 1867.
Thomas Henderson also built a mill near his farm in 1877, and a Mr. Ailport one at the head of Coal Run the same
year. McCaulley & Ramey built a mill at Stirling in 1870, and another one at a point now called Ramey in 1874.
The timber of this region was so fine that sticks squared one foot, and seventy-six feet long, were furnished for
the Centennial buildings, and seventy-two feet long for the insane asylum at Norristown.
Beyer & Kirk built a mill near Morgan Run in 1882, and another near Madera in 1885. Messrs. Fryberger &
Fee had a shingle-mill in operation near Houtzdale in 1881, and Walker Brothers one on Morgan Run, and William
Luther one at Madera, while Frederick Ramey had another at Osceola Mills.
There was another saw-mill one mile south of Osceola Mills, and another three miles west of the same place, and
though these last two were in Centre county, just over the line, yet they helped to clear the forests of this side
of the county line.
Mr. Mays and John Hamerly built a planing-mill one mile west of Houtzdale in 1874. This mill was afterwards sold
to Samuel T. Henderson, and by him to Giles Walker in 1885, but Mr. Walker re-sold the mill to Henderson in 1886.
The shipment of lumber from this region from 1867 to 1884 was 1,082,742 tons, averaging two tons per thousand feet,
aggregating 541,371,000 feet of lumber. This only represents the amount manufactured in the townships under review.
There was a large amount of logs cut and floated to market. Jacob Kepler logged the southern side of the A. B.
Long tract as early as 1858, while Howard Matley and John Bordeaux logged the Moshannon Coal Company's tract in
The Moshannon Branch Railroad was built in 1869, and from that time improvements have followed each other very
fast. The population in 1872, when Houtzdale was taken from it, was eighteen hundred, while in 1885 it was over
ten thousand, by adding the boroughs and townships erected within its borders since the former date.
A most sanguinary battle, so tradition has it, was fought between General Anthony Wayne and the Indians, about
half a mile south of Houtzdale, and the graves of the slain can be distinctly traced. Many relics, bones, arrow-heads
and other relics have been picked up around the spot, and the trees bore many a mark of the conflict. In fact,
when these trees were felled and hauled to the mills to be sawed they often destroyed the saws and endangered the
life of the sawyer by coming in contact with some stone implement or arrowhead imbedded in the wood.
Before the advent of the railroad, however, Dr. Houtz, who had bought large tracts of lands in the township, and
on which Houtzdale, Brisbin, and a number of villages stand, determined to make a way to get his lumber to market,
and, with this end in view, he deputized his son-in-law, George M. Brisbin, to come into the township and see what
could be done. Mr. Brisbin came here, then, before the advent of railroads, though the Tyrone and Clearfield railway
was talked about. He proposed and actually surveyed a route for a plank road from Osceola Mills to Jeansville,
and Madera, about ten miles. This was to be supplemented by a tramroad, so as to enable them to haul their lumber
to the railroad. This plank and tramroad was never destined to be built, however, for when Mr. Brisbin had everything
ready to commence, the Messrs. Knight, who owned the extensive coal lands at Moshannon, came along and asked Dr.
Houtz to join with them and build a railroad three miles long. The doctor agreed to this, as it would bring his
lands within one mile of an outlet, and the road was built. This was the first of the Moshannon Branch. Mr. Brisbin
then built a tramroad from the mills at "Houtzville," as it was then called, to Moshannon, one mile long,
and hauled his lumber to that point and shipped it.
The cause of the sudden increase of population was the opening the coal beds. It has not been all prosperity, however.
The miners did not always work, but created an occasional disturbance by striking. The first general strike occurred
in January, 1869, but it did not last very long. Wages were advanced about fifteen per cent. Since then other strikes
have taken place with varying success.
Madera is a village situated on the east side of Clearfield Creek, four miles from Houtzdale. It was formerly called
Puseyville, after Charles Pusey, who owned the land upon which it was built, and who erected saw-mills and a large
grist-mill near the town site. The town is surrounded with hills in which are numerous coal beds. (For Brisbin
and Houtzdale boroughs see succeeding chapter.)